A Lawyer’s First Suit
After graduation from the U of I Law School, my husband had one more hurdle to pass before he could become a full-fledged lawyer – the Bar exam – a requirement to be able to practice law.
He drove me to my parents’ home in Johnston City, IL, then took the train to Chicago where the exam would be given. There he bunked in a hotel room with several other strapped-for-money fellow graduates until the Bar Exam was completed.
With no knowledge of whether or not he had passed the exam (that wouldn’t be known for several weeks), he rode the train back to J.C. We visited with our parents for a couple of days before leaving for Belleville and the firm where he had accepted his first job as a lawyer.
On the morning we were leaving, his father called and said one of the elders at his home church, First Christian Church, had called to ask that we stop by his store before leaving town. We assumed the gentleman, Paul Odom, wanted to congratulate him on his graduation from Law School. It was much more than that.
Paul's store was the only men’s clothing store in our small town. After congratulating my husband on his graduation, Paul swept his arm around the racks of men’s suits. “Pick a suit, Junior. Any suit you want. And a shirt. And a tie.”
Paul Odom could not possibly have known that he didn’t own a suit, an absolute requirement for a lawyer to wear to court. We also didn’t have the money to buy one. The closest thing he had to a suit was the sport coat he had worn since high school.
Thanks to the generosity of Paul Odom, he walked proudly into the Meyer and Meyer Law Firm in Belleville wearing a smart-looking navy blue suit, complete with dress shirt and tie, courtesy of the generosity of a Christian man in Johnston City, IL.
We still reflect on what that meant to us, because we had spent every penny we had on law school and the cost of the Bar Exam. Years later, we still wonder at our naiveté, and we still marvel at God’s provision through a generous man who had a close relationship with our Heavenly Father.
There’ve been a number of other suits purchased over the years of his law career, but none have been cherished like the first!
About 10 years ago I conducted a workshop for a Women/Girls Retreat at LaMoine Christian Services Camp. The topic I was given to speak about was “Confidence and Appearance.” My approach to that topic was to talk about the confidence and appearance we have when we know God is walking through life with us. That we are not alone.
Somewhere during the workshop I told the story about my husbands first suit, a gift from Paul Odom.
All at once a young woman in the group started to weep – the kind of weeping that couldn’t be missed or ignored. Confused and concerned, I stopped talking and wound my way through the chairs to get to her. Before I could even ask her if there was a way I could help, she blurted out, between sobs, “He was my father! Paul Odom was my father!”
I knelt beside her as she told me that over the years she had heard other stories of her father’s generosity but said she didn’t remember his ever coming home and telling the family what he had done in that regard. He was a humble man who surely felt and responded to God’s nudges and inspiration. We are honored to have been the recipients of one of those stories.
The young woman was married to a minister, and she was to be the Featured Speaker at the retreat that weekend. As we talked, I learned she was from Johnston City too, and when she was a girl her parents had taken her to a wedding at their church – OUR wedding!
It was a beautiful moment and a strong message of generosity shared by all at a workshop at LaMoine Christian Services Camp.